- Acne is the term of plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms.
- While acne usually begins in puberty, the disease is not restricted to any age group. Adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s- even into their 50s – can get acne.
- Acne lesions are either non-inflammatory or inflammatory. Non-inflammatory lesions include closed and open comedones. Closed comedones are known as whiteheads; open comedones are known as blackheads.
- Acne scarring often occurs and is most prominent in patients with inflammatory acne.
- Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting 40 million to 50 million Americans.
- Nearly 80 percent of people aged 11 to 30 have acne, most often on their face, chest, and back.
- By mid-teens, more than 40 percent of adolescents have acne or acne scarring which requires some treatment by a dermatologist.
- Americans spend well over 100 million dollars a year on non-prescription acne treatments. This does not include special soaps, cleansers, prescription therapies and visits to physicians.
- Research by the AAD has found that acne can be especially distressing for teens, causing both emotional physical scars.
Causes of Acne
Foods, such as chocolate or greasy foods, do not cause acne, but certain foods seem to make some people's acne worse. The following can bring on acne or worsen it:
- Hereditary factors
- An increase in male hormones found in both males and females
- Emotional stress
- Oil and grease from cosmetics or work environment
Acne Care and Treatment
- To prevent scars, do not pop, squeeze or pick at acne; seek treatment early for acne that does not respond to over-the-counter medications.
- Gently wash affected areas twice a day with mild soap and warm water. Vigorous washing and scrubbing can irritate your skin and make acne worse.
- Shampoo hair often, daily if it is oily
- Use oil-free cosmetics and sunscreens.
- Avoid astringents, which strip your skin of natural moisture
- Antibiotics taken orally, such as tetracycline, minocycline or erythromycin, are often prescribed for acne.
- Isotretinoin has proven to be the only medication that safely and effectively controls severe cystic acne, the most serious form of this skin disease. The Academy is committed to the safe and responsible use of isotretinoin and supports continuing education for physicians and patients on pregnancy and other potential hazards connected with the use of this medication. (For more information on Isotretinoin go to www.aadassociation.org/policy/psisotretinoin.html)
- Patients with very mild acne scarring are good candidates for microdermabrasion, which works by scraping away the surface of the scarred skin and stimulating new cell growth.
- Combination therapies using oral and topical antibiotics or topical retinoid in conjunction with a chemical peel, such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid, have been found effective in managing acne.
Laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, and skin fillers provide safe and effective treatments for acne scarring. Since acne scars are unique in their appearance and often have complex characteristics, patients should consult with their dermatologist to determine an individualized treatment plan for the most successful result.